- Instant transfers with faster payments
- No ATM fees
- No transaction fees
- Set up Direct Debits
- Track your spend
- Shake-to-Pay koto users nearby
The newest addition to the UK challenger scene, koto, is looking to acquire its first 50,000 customers. In this koto review, we’re having a look at what it has on offer and what, if anything, separates koto from the pack. But first, here’s our short verdict:
koto is a simple mobile payment account with no fees for ATM, transactions, top-ups, or membership. If you’re eligible for credit (check on their website), you have two options with competitive rates and transparent fees. It’s a solid addition to the mobile banking space.
koto or koto card or getkoto was launched in December 2020 after raising £2.5 million. Its founders, Dima Dubilet, Misha Rogalskiy, and Oleg Gorokhovskiy, are entrepreneurs that are behind Monobank, a Ukrainian digital bank that acquired over 1 million customers in just over a year!
The company’s offices are in Epsom, England, as well as in Dnipro, Ukraine, where the majority of the team is located.
Why is koto so special?
Koto’s main hook and a moto of sorts are fixed fees and no surprises. And that’s exactly what it delivers. When you sign up for their mobile-only account, you can straightaway use the virtual Mastercard to deposit cash into the account, make payments, transfer money, and draw credit if you’re eligible.
It works just like any bank account where you can load cash or have your salary paid into it. With two options for credit – Extra with a £500 limit and Spread with a £1,000 limit, you’ll always have some money to spend (and return).
With 12 million people in the UK that require better credit options to meet their financial needs, koto will have an endless stream of potential customers.
Pros and cons
- Easy to apply online
- Handy credit lines that are optional
- Optional plastic card (£5)
- Competitive rates
- No card fees (credit fees apply)
- No ATM and transaction fees
- A very young startup
- Extra credit – £0.20 per day, APR 29.2% variable
- Spread credit – £10 per month, APR 23.7% variable
- £5 for a plastic card issuing
There’s only one fee with getkoto.com outside of credit, and that’s optional, as well as you can pay with your phone. There are no monthly fees, no minimum balance, no ATM fee in the UK or abroad (some ATM providers may apply an additional fee), and free foreign currency transactions.
In which countries is koto available?
koto is available only in the UK. You also have to be older than 18 to apply for a koto account.
How to open a koto account?
Opening a koto account is a simple process that includes downloading the koto app from Google Play or the App Store. Have your photo ID, such as a driving license or a passport, ready for scanning and answer a couple of questions in the application. Your credit score is protected if you aren’t eligible for credit.
How to add funds
You can deposit funds using any of the usual methods – bank transfer, PayPoint, or Post Office cash top-ups.
Extra credit is basically an overdraft on your account, and you can get up to £500 Extra credit, dependant on your credit score.
You’ll have to pay a fixed £0.20 daily fee and a representative APR of 29.2%. So, for an assumed credit amount of £500, you’ll have to pay back £572.80 in total.
You have complete control of the Extra credit feature as you can turn it on and off in the app. The daily fee of £0.20 is fixed and stays the same no matter how much money you borrow.
The Spread credit is a standard credit option that you’d have with other credit cards, for instance. It allows you to spread payments over up to 24 instalments for purchases over £100. You can use Spread anywhere you see the Mastercard logo. There’s a £1,000 Spread credit limit.
You’ll have to pay a fixed £10 fee per month and a representative APR of 23.7%. So, for an assumed credit amount of £1000, you’ll have to pay back £1,120 in total, over 12 months.
The koto app is easy to use as it doesn’t have too many options to choose from. I, for one, don’t like an overcrowded app with gazillion options and features and end up using only a few.
Here you can load your money or apply for credit, see your balance and spend notifications, track your spending with charts and information, secure your card by freezing it, or contact customer support. You also get to set up Direct Debits and Standing Orders as long as you keep your account topped up. And, of course, make Money Transfers and faster payment transfers.
To use your phone for making payments, you’ll need to set up either Apple Pay or Google Pay. Just log in to the koto app, swipe left and click “Apple Pay settings” to add your card to Apple Pay. Or you can add a card via phone settings, “Wallet and Apple Pay”.
koto comes with a virtual and an optional plastic debit Mastercard. You get to spend overseas with the best Mastercard rates and no fees, and there are no ATM withdrawal fees at home or abroad, which makes it excellent for travellers.
The koto account does come with some pretty standard account limits. For instance, the maximum account balance is £10,000. The exact amount is the limit for incoming and outgoing transactions. The maximum amount per cash load at Post Office and PayPoint is £500, which isn’t a problem, really as you can top up your account with a bank transfer. The Daily ATM withdrawal limit is also £500, and it’s free.
koto does come with a simple chart where you can track your monthly spending but not much else. You can see the category of the spend and how much and what percentage of your budget was spent in the category.
How is koto regulated?
koto isn’t a bank. The company is registered as an e-money agent and a Consumer Credit lender and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is a typical situation for challenger banks worldwide to be authorized as e-money institutions until (and if) they apply and get a banking license.
Is my money safe with koto?
So, although koto card isn’t a bank per se, and your deposits aren’t insured by the FSCS, that doesn’t mean that your money isn’t safe. On the contrary, your money is safeguarded and protected in a separate account where it can only be used for the purpose intended and nothing else. The company can’t speculate, invest, or play around with it.
You can freeze your card from the app, which is a standard feature by now, and you also get instant transactional notifications.
Who owns koto?
Getkoto, or simply koto was founded by the founders of the popular Ukrainian digital bank Monobank. The entrepreneur trio Dima Dubilet, Misha Rogalskiy, and Oleg Gorokhovskiy previously worked together at PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest bank, which has around 20 million users.
It’s clear that they have loads of experience as they’ve scaled Monobank to 1 million users in only a year, according to the koto website.
koto has a 4-star rating out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 71% of only 24 reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 25% a bad one. With a score of 4 stars, koto is placed lower than Monzo (4.5), Starling (4.4), and Revolut, for example.
Some of the customers that rated the koto card poorly apparently had issues with opening the koto account or an issue with verification. You got to remember that the company is still in its infancy, though.
You can hit the chat icon in the app at any time to chat with koto customer service or call them on 0800 917 6177 or 020 3901 3517, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no shortage of excellent digital banking competitors in the UK market. Although most digital banks don’t offer credit to their customers, they do offer a lot compared to koto. It all depends on what are your needs.
Revolut has become a global player in the neobanking world and has introduced many features that other challenger banks have started copying. While the company has to work out some kinks, it does offer plenty of incentives for you to switch to their slick app.
Monzo is registered as a bank in the UK and can therefore offer some banking products like loans and overdrafts. The government also insures your deposits for up to £85,000.
Starling is winning award after award in the UK banking sector. It has only one type of personal account, and it is free with no monthly fees. It might not offer all the bells and whistles, but it’s a superb offering and one of the best if not the best bank account in the UK, period.
We recently made a comprehensive review of Wise and its low money-transferring fees and the ability to hold, receive and send money in more than 55 currencies. It’s great for travelling and for transferring money in multiple currencies and countries.
The bottom line
If you’re often strapped for cash and need that injection of money to get you further, koto is exactly what you need, if you’re eligible, of course. If not, you still get to use the account as a top-up card if you don’t opt for getting your salary directly to it.
It really is a no-frills credit card, basically with limits of £500 and £1,000. The Mastercard doesn’t come with any fees, including no monthly or annual subscription fees or transaction and ATM fees. It’s great for using at home or abroad.
Adrian Volenik is a fintech enthusiast who loves testing and reviewing digital banking apps and financial products in general. How many digital banking accounts can one man have? Not enough, if you ask Adrian. As his wallet will soon explode if he doesn’t cut back on the number of cards.